Road America PWC: James scores maiden GTS win for Panoz
Ex-pat Briton Ian James scored a landmark victory for the new Panoz Avezzano GT in the GTS class of the Pirelli World Challenge at Road America on Saturday.
James led the field away from pole position, ahead of Jeff Courtney’s Maserati GT4 and the KTM Xbows of Austin Versteeg and Martin Barkey.
Lawson Aschenbach made a good start in his Chevrolet Camaro, slingshotting up to third on the opening lap from fifth on the grid.
As James pulled clear out front, Courtney had to defend from Aschenbach, who made a move stick on him at Turn 1 on Lap 2.
Barkey spun out of fourth at Bill Mitchell Bend, almost taking out Rodrigo Baptista’s Porsche Cayman.
James kept Aschenbach at arm’s length through the 50-minute race, while Courtney kept in touch with the Chevy throughout.
Courtney made an audacious bid to pass Aschenbach around the outside of Turn 1 with 12 minutes to go, but was repelled. Courtney tried the same move on the final lap, but – again – the Italian sportscar was foiled by the American muscle machine.
Versteeg dropped to sixth by the mid-point of the race, but battled back in the late stages to finish fourth and take the fastest lap which means pole position for tomorrow’s event.
Baptista and Harry Gottsacker’s Ginetta duelled hard in the closing stages for fifth, swapping the position but Baptista held sway when it mattered.
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